Free SEO Tools
Your website is up and running, and looking great with, hopefully, no discernible technical issues. But is it properly optimised for search engines, and how can you tell? If it’s not, your website will be hard to find, and that can be disastrous for your business. If you’re responsible for your website’s performance, use these free SEO tools for great results.
SEO Tools: Mobile Friendly
When you’re optimising your website for search engines, you can’t ignore the mobile responsiveness of your site. If your site is more than 5 years old, there’s a possibility it’s not mobile responsive, which means the majority of your web visitors who are now on smart phones cannot easily navigate it. In addition, you’ll be penalised by having your site show up lower in the search engines, and that’s never a good thing.
What to do if your site is not mobile responsive? In my experience, unfortunately, a complete redesign is in order. There are some plugins for WordPress sites designed to optimise for tablets and smart phones, but they take a lot of work. And although the plugin may technically make your site mobile responsive, it will probably end up looking pretty funky on anything other than a desktop, which is of course, a major detriment and not worth all the time and effort.
A simple test to check whether your site is mobile optimised, from your computer desktop, is to minimise the browser window while your website is open (see image above). If it adjusts so the layout and all text is still readable when you’ve made your browser as narrow as possible, your site is probably mobile responsive (this doesn’t work with Wix-designed websites). And of course, you can also open your website on a browser on your smart phone too. But for the official word from Google, just follow this link, and type your web address into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
SEO Tools: Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a completely free online data analysing tool which takes just a few simple steps to set up. Use the data it begins collecting from the moment of installation to better optimise your site, learn more about your web visitors and measure conversion rates. Want to know how visitors found your website, their demographics and which content they’re engaging with? This essential tool gives you all that and much more – with an almost-stalking level of data collection. Love graphs and data? You might just have to set hard time limits for yourself when you’re on Google Analytics.
With so many features, there’s even a Google Analytics Academy featuring multiple, easy to follow, YouTube tutorials. But to get started, I recommend following this independently created, comprehensive tutorial that includes links to get quickly to any part of the tutorial. Sorry the screenshot is so ugly. Fortunately, the design in this case doesn’t really matter:
DIY SEO: Yoast
If you have a WordPress site, I highly recommend installing the free Yoast SEO plugin. This tool allows you to follow all of the best practices for search engine optimisation on every post and page you create. Use this tool for generating XML sitemaps, optimal keyword usage, and meta descriptions. Even if you have no SEO experience, your site will be expertly optimised if you just follow the user-friendly plugin guidelines. Best of all, the plugin keeps up with any search engine algorithm changes that impact SEO, so you don’t have to. Phew! Glad someone’s keeping track.
Yoast includes a readability analysis, which measures the length of your sentences, paragraphs and complexity of sentence construction.
Image Optimisation: Smush
Most websites are pretty heavy on the images for good reason – people engage with visual elements, and as the old saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words. With that in mind, it’s important to make sure that uploaded web images are optimised to help your site load as fast as possible so you’re not penalised by search engines, or driving your visitors crazy. You can do this manually in image editing software like Adobe Photoshop, but you still may not get the size compression you need. That’s why I recommend Smush for WordPress sites.
This tool is especially useful if there are multiple people uploading content to your site that you don’t have direct control over. And let’s face it, we don’t really have that much control over anyone. Technically I have direct control over my dog, but that doesn’t stop her getting up to all kinds of shenanigans. Smush to the rescue then, because it automatically saves each image within the size ratios set by your template. In the case of larger websites, I would recommend upgrading to the Pro version which is currently $49 per month for unlimited websites. The pro version allows for higher image compression which is important if you have hundreds of images. But the free version is perfectly adequate for smaller websites like my own.
SEO Tools: Create Relevant Content
You’ll get higher rankings by creating relevant content – in the form of a blog – for your website. Include keywords you’ve identified that best represent your industry. Search engines see this content and rank you as an expert in your field whether your blog is educational, or just reports on the successes of your services (Google doesn’t care if you’re not an actual expert, just if you appear to be).
This content also serves as a re-marketing tool to drive more visitation to your site (if it’s any good). Include a newsletter signup at the end of each blog to encourage more engagement, and share your content on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn with links back to your website.
These SEO tools are my own personal favourites. You can find many more online, each offering its own unique capabilities and limitations. If you find all of this pretty daunting, I’m here to help! Tea Break Consulting offers web repair services (including SEO) as well as mobile responsive redesigns. Get the full list of services or contact me using this handy form.
If you have favourite SEO tools, I’d love to hear about them in comments below.